On Carlos Beltran

For lent, I gave up looking at Zack Wheeler's stats. Cold turkey. I don't even know what lent is, but I'm really into it in this case. If Wheeler makes it up to the majors, I'll pretend that it's Zach Wheeler, a non-prospect with a similar name.

Jesse Foppert-for-Kenny Lofton would have worked out just fine in 2002. The Giants didn't have to give up a top prospect for Lofton, but if they had, it would have worked out just splendidly. Matt Cain-for-Sean Casey wouldn't have worked out just fine in 2004. Casey was mediocre from then on, and Cain is Cain is Cain, which is to say, a pitcher who is better than you. Every time Cain took the hill for the Reds, we'd weep silent tears.

We don't know which one Wheeler-for-Beltran is going to be yet. But we're starting to get an idea. His wrist is hurting -- that's a different malady from his knee hurting, which is what we were already prepared for. He's old. He's a free agent. He's slumping. Wheeler is hitting 99 mph with his fastball. Things aren't looking up.

The temptation, then, is to wish we could hop in a time machine and trade Wheeler, Thomas Neal, and another prospect for Hunter Pence. That guy's hitting. He's around for another couple of years. He might not even follow the normal aging curve -- he's 235 if you go by the calendar from his home planet -- and he'd sure look nice hitting after Pablo right now. It might be more tempting not to make a trade at all, and just like this offense sink quietly into the cove.

But while the trade isn't looking good right now, it's only been ten days. There are still two months (and hopefully more) to go. What the last ten days have reinforced for me isn't that it was a mistake to trade for Beltran, it's that, holy crap, am I glad they traded for a hitter. I'm still not happy that they gave up Wheeler, but for the short-term, I can't imagine looking at this lineup every day without expecting Carlos Beltran to hit like Carlos Beltran.

If Beltran's wrist is more than a strain, I'll probably just give up and read the Spark Notes for all of the remaining games this season. A grown human being can only take so many Huff-Cabrera-Schierholtz permutations in the 4-5-6 spots. I don't like the trade yet -- Beltran's mini-slump shows the folly of expecting two much out of a two-month rental -- but I don't think I'd wave a magic wand and undo it yet.

Does that make sense? I'm still waiting a bit to complain. The Giants' offense is so bad right now, I'm thankful that there's an old, gimpy outfielder on the roster who will break out one of these days. Could be tonight. Could be tomorrow. Soon! It will be soon! And it's this sad, unrealistic expectation that gives me hope for this offense. The Giants' offense is awful. But it shouldn't be this awful. So let's all raise our glasses and make a toast to "not this awful." Beltran gives us hope enough for that.

Since moving to Mays Field, the Giants have never had a three-series homestand where they've lost each series. That they're close is an indictment of the worst offense we've seen since, well, 2008. But where the 2008 Giants had Pablo and nothing, the 2011 Giants have Pablo, Beltran, and nothing. I still believe. I don't like the trade, but as long as Beltran stays in the lineup, I'm glad it was made. 

Now heal that damned wrist and get back in the lineup, Carlos. Please.

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